What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 17, 2015

Warm, Warmer Warmest - More Climate Misinformation From The Tribune-Review

With this Op-Ed, the editorial board over at the Tribune-Review continues it's never ending (yet also never succeeding) project to deny climate science.

It's their usual practice of folding together an incomplete set facts in such a way to that it looks thorough and coherent.

But it isn't.

Let's take a look why:
Contrary to some contorted conclusions twisted further by Big Media, 2014 was not the hottest year on record, based on satellite temperature data. It wasn't even close.

But the dubious declaration by the Japan Meteorological Agency was enough to launch a fusillade of folderol. The Japanese climatologists measured surface temperatures, with readings from weather stations, ships and even buoys around the world. Supposedly 2014 was 0.05 degrees Celsius warmer than 1998, the next hottest year on record.

NASA as well reported last month that 2014 was the warmest on record. What it neglected to mention, however, was that its own, more accurate satellite temperature data showed that last year was only the sixth warmest since NASA Remote Sensing Systems satellites went up about 40 years ago, according to The New American.
Let's look at their first statement - by the satellite data, 2014 "wasn't even close" to being the warmest on record.  It comes, as per the braintrust's own telling, from this piece at The New American.

But does the satellite data actually measure the same stuff as the surface stations?  What the braintrust neglected to mention is that the satellite data does not measure the same section of the climate as the surface or the oceans - it's only one part of the data.  How do I know?

NOAA's Summary of the data:
  • The 2014 temperature for the lower troposphere (roughly the lowest five miles of the atmosphere) was third highest in the 1979-2014 record, at 0.50°F (0.28°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH), and sixth highest on record, at 0.29°F (0.16°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by Remote Sensing Systems (RSS).  
  • The 2014 temperature for the mid-troposphere (roughly two miles to six miles above the surface) was third highest in the 1979–2014 record, at 0.32°F (0.18°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by UAH, and sixth highest on record, at 0.25°F (0.14°C) above the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. 
  • The temperature for the lower stratosphere (roughly 10 miles to 13 miles above the surface) was 13th lowest in the 1979–2014 record, at 0.56°F (0.31°C) below the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by UAH, and also 13th lowest on record, at 0.41°F (0.23°C) below the 1981–2010 average, as analyzed by RSS. The stratospheric temperature is decreasing on average while the lower and middle troposphere temperatures are increasing on average, consistent with expectations in a greenhouse-warmed world. 
The satellite data is for the troposphere and the stratosphere not the surface - so setting them in opposition (as the climate deniers are looking to do) is simply unfounded.

I'm just surprised the braintrust didn't pounce on this sentence from the New American:
In fairness, after being pressed by increasingly skeptical journalists on its data, NASA scientists claimed to be only 38 percent sure that last year was actually the warmest on record.
Lucky for me, the Washington Post has already debunked this debunking:
The figure comes from slide 5 of the PowerPoint presentation mentioned above, where NASA scientists noted that there was a 38 percent chance that 2014 was the hottest year, but only a 23 percent chance that the honor goes to the next contender, 2010, and a 17 percent chance that it goes to 2005.

The same slide shows that NOAA’s scientists were even more confident in the 2014 record, ranking it as having a 48 percent probability, compared with only an 18 percent chance for 2010 and a 13 percent chance for 2005.
And in reality, that bit of data was not released "after being pressed by" the science deniers.
According to a NASA spokesman, the PowerPoint containing this slide went online at the same time that the 2014 temperature record itself was announced. So it may not have been as prominent as the press releases from the agencies, but it was available.

The slide was also discussed in the press briefing when the news of the new record was released.
Something else the deniers neglected to either mention or find out for themselves.

Anyway, here's the chart:

Note that the number does not show that NASA is "only 38 percent sure" (or 48 percent in the case of NOAA) that the statement "2014 was the warmest year on record" is true.  What it does show is that that's how confident 2014 was warmer than all the other years before it.  It's a mistake, for example, to assume that there's a 62 percent chance that some other year was warmer.  From the NOAA press briefing:
Certainly there are uncertainties in putting all this together, all these datasets. But after considering the uncertainties, we have calculated the probability that 2014, versus other years that were relatively warm, were actually the warmest year on record. And the way you can interpret these data tables is, for the NOAA data, 2014 is two and a half times more likely than the second warmest year on record, 2010, to actually be the warmest on record, after consideration of all the data uncertainties that we take into account. And for the NASA data, that number is on the order of about one and a half times more likely than the second warmest year on their records, which again, is 2010. So clearly, 2014 in both our records were the warmest, and there’s a fair bit of confidence that that is indeed the case, even considering data uncertainties.
That's how the science goes.

And it's still getting warmer:

No matter what the science deniers say.


spork_incident said...

The cold water pipe in my kitchen is frozen, ergo Al Gore is fat.


Ol' Froth said...

Cue Heir in 3...2....1...

Dayvoe said...

Or this rom the Trib braintrust: For the continental U.S., last year was only the 34th warmest on record.

Ergo globally the temperatures can not be going up.

Ol' Froth said...

Well, that's because we're exceptional, what happens elsewhere is not our concern.

Ol' Froth said...

Interesting article on what'ss causing this specific event. http://www.science20.com/news_articles/giant_atmospheric_rossby_waves_cause_more_weather_extremes-142375

Chris said...

Nice breakdown/takedown.